Are you looking for love, or hunting for unicorns?
If you’ve looked at personal ads, online or otherwise, you’ve probably seen ads from couples. Some are clearly swingers just out for a good time. Nothing wrong with that. But many of them are looking for something more. In the poly world, we call them “unicorn hunters.” A “unicorn” is a young, single, non-crazy, sexually adventurous, drug and disease-free bisexual female who wants desperately to live with and love a male/female couple. She should be well educated, gainfully employed yet willing to move all the way across the country for her “dream family”, want to make kids and/or help raise someone else’s, and in a perfect world, has red hair/big breasts/whatever the fantasy ideal of the couple is. In a large number of cases, she should be skinny, or at least “healthy”, and if she could be submissive, that’s a big plus. And of course she must love both members of the primary couple equally, and she will always be secondary.
We call these women “unicorns.” They are about as common and easy to find. Every unicorn-hunting couple has their own vision of the unicorn. Mix and match the laundry list above, and most unicorn hunter personal ads are represented. There are a shockingly large number of couples looking for one. And the vast, overwhelming majority of them will never meet her.
The concept of unicorn hunting runs counter to one of the basic philosophical advantages being polyamorous has over monogamy. When you are poly, every relationship in your life has the capability to be whatever it is going to be. There are no arbitrary limits on how serious a relationship can become, no hard and fast rules on how many you can have, and no need to pull back from a friendship because one or the other wants more. Everything is open to negotiation.
Of course, this is not necessarily completely true. Many poly relationships do in fact have negotiated rules limiting things in various ways. In my own family, we are very cautious whenever one of us shows interest in someone new, or someone from outside our quad shows interest in us. Our home life is pretty good. We’ve spent years learning how to communicate with each other, work out differences and create a happy, stable home. We aren’t going to potentially upset all that effort lightly. And now with a baby in the house, we are even more reluctant to do so. Anyone that fits into the craziness of our lives would have to be a pretty exceptional individual, whether they lived with us or not.
There are other limits in our family, but that’s not the point. Because we are poly, we had to actively work through it. We had to sit down and think about what we wanted our relationship to be, and work through disagreements. There were no societal norms assumed to hold sway.
Unicorn hunters, by codifying exactly what they are looking for in a new partner, are already limiting what the relationships can be. First of all, they are limiting the potential pool of applicants right from the start. Very rarely are unicorn hunters looking for a male, cis or trans. I’ve even seen a few personals disqualifying transwomen. Many unicorn hunters specifically desire certain physical characteristics besides biological gender, such as body type, hair color or age. But that’s just the beginning. What if the new partner loves one partner more than the other? Or doesn’t feel sexual attraction to one? What if she is unwilling to move, or doesn’t want kids? They simply move on and keep looking. Unicorn hunters think they know exactly what they want, and thereby miss out on the full range of possibilities polyamory opens for them.
How is this different from what my family did and does? We discussed things together, and reached decisions together, including other potential and actual partners whenever possible. We have changed and adapted over time. We don’t have a laundry list of “wants” or “needs” in a new partner. We consider all new potential partners with the entire family in mind, emphasizing what they can add to us as a unit as well as individually.
The unicorn hunters have imposed their limits without the input of the potential new partner, and are rarely willing to compromise their “vision” of an ideal poly family. Many of them think that everything will be perfect once they find this one woman, this wondrous creature that will make their lives complete. All too frequently, one half of the unicorn hunting couple pushed them to become poly, and the unicorn they are looking for is really just a new partner for the instigator.
The limits delineated by unicorn hunters virtually doom them to failure. They are welcome to search for their needle in a haystack as long as they like. And I truly hope that every such couple finds the partner they are looking for. I’m all for more love and happiness in the world. But I would urge them, and all people desirous of a poly family, whatever its configuration, to remain open to whatever and whomever they might meet. The likelihood of success increases the more open you are. My own family is a perfect example. The life we live is amazing, but most of us did not see it coming. We are together now only because we were brave enough to let our relationship(s) develop and grow, and did not try to force them into some pre-existing set of arbitrary standards.